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Richard Zakia collection on Rudolf Arnheim

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: RITArc-0017

Scope and Contents

The Richard Zakia collection on Rudolf Arnheim contains correspondence, published materials, and photographs related to Rudolf Arnheim and his work. Most of the correspondence consists of letters written by Arnheim to Richard Zakia, a professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) from 1979-2002. The letters deal with a variety of topics, but most focus on the work of Arnheim or Zakia in the field of perception. While some of the letters are originals, many are photocopies of the original documents.

The collection also includes published writings both on and about Rudolf Arnheim and his work. Again, many of the items in this series are photocopies of the original documents. The articles are mostly taken from journals and magazines, such as Psychology Today, Design Quarterly, Salmagundi, and Journal of Aesthetic and Art Criticism.

Lastly, the collection contains four 8x10" black and white photographs, documenting Rudolf Arnheim's visit to RIT in 1977.


  • Creation: 1968-2004

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

Biographical Information: Rudolf Arnheim

Rudolf Arnheim (1904-2007) was born in Berlin, Germany on July 15, 1904 to Georg and Betty (née Butherz) Arnheim. During the 1920s he entered the University of Berlin, where he worked closely with Gestalt psychologists Max Wertheimer and Wolfgang Kohler. Arnheim graduated with his Ph.D. from the university in 1928, having focused his studies on the experimental psychology of visual expression. Rather than work as a psychologist, Arnheim chose to enter the publishing field and took a job on the editorial staff of Die Weltbühne. In 1933, Arnheim fled Nazi Germany and headed to Rome, where he found a position as an editor at the International Institute for Educational Film (established by the League of Nations). By 1938 Arnheim decided to leave fascist Italy and moved to London, where he worked as a translator in BBC’s Overseas Services office. He stayed in England until 1940, when he finally settled in the United States.

Upon arriving in the United States, Arnheim began working with the Office of Radio Research at Columbia University. He did not formally begin working in the field of academia until 1943, when he accepted a position on the faculty of Sarah Lawrence College. During the same time, he served as a Lecturer and Visiting Professor at the New School for Social Research in New York City.

Arnheim became a United States citizen in 1946 and married Mary Elizabeth Frame of Detroit on April 11, 1953. He continued working at both Sarah Lawrence College and the New School for Social Research until 1968. He then spent the rest of his career working as a professor in the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University from 1968-1974. Yet, even after Arnheim retired he remained active in the field, serving as a Visiting Professor for various courses and departments at the University of Michigan.

Throughout his life, Arnheim received many honors and recognitions for his contributions to the field of visual psychology. He was awarded honorary degrees at Sarah Lawrence College, the Rhode Island School of Design, Albion College, Bates College, Marquette University, and the Kansas City Art Institute. He also received a Fulbright Lectureship at Ochanomizu University in Tokyo in 1959, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1976, and served as the Resident Scholar at the American Academy in Rome in 1978.

Rudolf Arnheim died on June 9, 2007 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


.5 Linear Feet (1 half document box)




Materials related to Rudolf Arnheim, a prominent scholar in the field of experimental psychology and visual expression. Compiled by Richard Zakia, a former professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, the collection contains correspondence to Zakia, articles both on and about Arnheim, and photographs. Most of the materials are photocopies.


The collection is arranged by series, with materials arranged chronologically within each series.

Other Finding Aids

In addition to this finding aid, an inventory is available below. For more information, please contact the RIT Archive Collections.

Richard Zakia collection on Rudolf Arnheim

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was a gift from Richard Zakia, donated in 2005.

Processing Information

Finding aid created by Lara Nicosia in November 2010.



Richard Zakia collection on Rudolf Arnheim
RIT Archives
Lara Nicosia
09 November 2010
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Repository Details

Part of the RIT Archives Repository

Rochester NY 14623 USA